A lost child: On the eve of the First World War, a little girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia. A mysterious woman called the Authoress had promised to look after her - but has disappeared without a trace. A terrible secret: On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell Andrews learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the windswept Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family. A mysterious inheritance: On Nell's death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold - secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost.
I loved The House At Riverton, and Kate Morton’s new book has all the right ingredients for me.
The book is set over three timeframes. The first is 1900-1913 - Eliza Makepeace escapes a life of poverty in London when she is claimed by her mother’s aristocratic family, the Mountrachets, and taken to Cornwall. Here she meets her cousin Rose and a strong friendship is formed, which is severely tested years later when Rose marries and longs to have a child.
In 1975 Nell arrives in Cornwall from Australia to try to find out the truth about who she really is, and 30 years later her granddaughter Cassandra turns her back on her own tragedy to retrace Nell’s steps and search for her inheritance.
I got really engrossed in this multi-layered story and couldn’t wait to find out the truth about Nell’s birth. It did have one or two flaws - the language is a bit flowery at times and I found the character of Rose extremely irritating - but it’s very atmospheric, with great cast of supporting characters .
Interesting snippet from Kate Morton’s website: apparently she was inspired by a similar event in her own family history. On the eve of her 21st birthday, Kate’s grandmother found out that she wasn’t who she thought she was, just as Nell does in the book.
I hope she’s inspired to write another book very soon.